Safe to say Guy Boucher is a big fan of the trade that brought Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa last season.
“Phaneuf has made a huge impact,” Boucher said of last season’s blockbuster swap with Toronto, per the Citizen. “It was a terrific coup by the organization being able to bring him in. We definitely, as a team, need that type of leadership — somebody who has been there, has a lot of character, with a voice that has impact.”
Boucher then confirmed Phaneuf would serve as an alternate captain this season. The 30-year-old will wear it on the road, while Kyle Turris will wear it at home. Veteran winger Chris Neil will be a full-time alternate.
So Phaneuf is taking on a bigger role, a story in itself considering he took on a pretty large one after joining the Sens last season. In 20 games, he averaged 23:10 TOI — up from the 22:02 he was playing in Toronto — and formed a consistent pairing with young Cody Ceci, the defenseman Ottawa took 15th overall at the 2012 draft.
Of course, not everybody thought the move was a big win.
Detractors pointed towards Phaneuf’s contract — a seven-year, $49 million pact that carries a $7 million AAV through 2021. It’s one of the most lucrative deals in the NHL, and gave Ottawa two of the 12 highest-paid blueliners in the league.
Considering the Sens finished 26th in the NHL last season in goals allowed, that last sentence is a tad embarrassing.
It was also clear Toronto wanted to make Phaneuf’s contract go away. He wasn’t going to be part of the rebuild and, while he’s still a useful and impactful player, he was a ghost of the team’s past. It was difficult to envision the new wave of Toronto’s young talent taking over, especially with Phaneuf (and Phaneuf’s presence) in the room.
But that same presence is considered a big plus in Ottawa.
The hope now, of course, is that Phaneuf will be more comfortable in the Canadian capital, having adjusted to the move and his new surroundings.